The Hawaii Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit seeking to allow voters on the storm-damaged Big Island to vote.
The court said in an opinion released Thursday that it didn't have jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by the American Civil Liberties Union with the lawsuit.
The ACLU had asked the court to allow voters who couldn't make it to the polls on Election Day to cast ballots. They say voters were disenfranchised because they were blocked into their communities by fallen trees and downed power lines caused by Tropical Storm Iselle.
The court also says that the plaintiffs conceded that they did not meet the terms of a typical election contest.
The ACLU released the following statement:
"Every day, the ACLU works to defend and protect civil rights, including the right to vote. We believe that every person’s vote is important, and every person who wants to vote ought to have the same opportunity to do so. Many voters in and around Pahoa did not have that opportunity, and we asked the Hawai'i Supreme Court to step in. Although the Court declined to do so, we are grateful that the Court considered this matter so quickly. While our clients are disappointed that they will not be able to cast ballots in the primary election, the ACLU will continue its work to ensure that every person has an equal opportunity to vote – even when a natural disaster strikes – and we look forward to working with the Legislature to prevent these kinds of situations in the future."
The Office of Elections had no comment, but said the election results are now certified.
The attorney general says the ACLU lawsuit was one of three lawsuits pertaining to the primary election that were dismissed.
"Today, the Hawaii Supreme Court reached the right result in all three challenges to Hawaii's primary election," said Attorney General David Louie. "These decisions bring closure and finality to our primary election. The candidates and Hawaii’s voters can now look forward to the general election knowing that the results of the primary election are sound and not subject to any further challenge."
In Lathers, et al v. Abercrombie, et al, the ACLU argued, among other things, that the actions of the State and County of Hawaii defendants following Hurricane/Tropical Storm Iselle infringed upon the plaintiffs’ right to vote. The ACLU asked the court to reopen the primary election to people who claimed to have been unable to vote. The Hawaii Supreme Court concluded that it does not have the power or authority under the Hawaii Constitution or by Hawaii Revised Statutes to grant the relief the ACLU sought on behalf of the plaintiffs and dismissed the complaint.
In Waikiki v. Nago, the plaintiff, one of seven candidates in the Maui County Mayoral race, who received a total of 818 votes, contested the results of the election, and sought an order compelling a re-count or re-vote. In dismissing the complaint, the Hawaii Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff "can prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief" because he failed to present any "actual information of mistakes or errors sufficient to change the results of the election."
In Cermelj, et al v. Nago, et al, the plaintiffs filed an "Election Contest Complaint." The court dismissed the complaint concluding that plaintiffs could not bring an election contest because such challenges may only be brought by a candidate, political party or "thirty voters of any election district."